THE AMERICAS

Pinochet Letter Decries Violent Acts

SANTIAGO, Chile--Saying he has "no hatred or rancor in my soul," Gen. Augusto Pinochet for the first time publicly lamented violence during his regime, saying in a letter he shares the pain of those who suffered.

The letter, sent from the London residence where Pinochet remains in custody, contained language unusual for the 83-year-old former dictator, whose regime left a legacy of 3,197 people killed for political reasons.

"The pain of those who suffered was not alien to me in the past, or now," Pinochet wrote. "I lament all the situations of belligerence and acts of violence that caused" the deaths.

The letter was dated Sept. 11, the 26th anniversary of the bloody military coup in which Pinochet toppled the Marxist government of President Salvador Allende. Pinochet was arrested in London 11 months ago on a warrant from a Spanish judge who wants to try him for abuses during his dictatorship in 1973-90.

Venezuela Will Sell Aircraft to Aid Poor

CARACAS, Venezuela--Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the sale of 23 state-owned aircraft and said the proceeds would be used to build homes, schools and clinics for those suffering most from the recession-hit oil economy.

Chavez, who has pledged to clean up corruption and redistribute wealth, said the sale of the light aircraft would raise about $24 million. "We could build 3,000 homes with the sale of these 23 airplanes," he said.

AFRICA

Rwandan Bishop Pleads Not Guilty

KIGALI, Rwanda--The first Roman Catholic bishop ever to stand trial on charges of genocide pleaded not guilty in a Rwandan courtroom yesterday, saying he has been unjustly accused of helping plot the 1994 massacre of Rwanda's Tutsis.

"The crime of genocide is so serious, no one should dare toy with it," Misago told the three-judge panel.

In his opening statement, the bishop also said he was not guilty of allegations that he sent three priests and more than 10 schoolchildren to their deaths.

The bishop, who will be sentenced to death if convicted, says he is a scapegoat. He says the government is angry at the church for failing to deter attempts by the then-Hutu government to exterminate the country's minority Tutsis. At least 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

EUROPE

Protestant Terrorist Set Free in N. Ireland

BELFAST--One of Northern Ireland's most notorious anti-Catholic terrorists walked out of prison in the latest controversial step to keep the province's precarious peace accord from unraveling.

Wearing a black muscle shirt and backward baseball cap, Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair thrust a clenched fist in the air as he left the Maze prison southwest of Belfast surrounded by flag-waving supporters, some of whom covered their faces.

Adair served five years of a 16-year sentence after being convicted of the unprecedented charge of "directing terrorism." That reflected his pivotal role as commander of the outlawed Ulster Defense Association in a Protestant neighborhood of Belfast. Before his 1994 arrest, Adair boasted of his responsibility for slaying scores of Catholic civilians as part of the Ulster Defense Association's self-styled war against nearby Catholic districts.

U.S. Ambassador Returns to Belarus

MINSK, Belarus--The U.S. ambassador to the former Soviet republic of Belarus returned to his duties after the two nations ended a 15-month dispute over where he should live.

Daniel Speckhard, accompanied by his wife and three children, said he was pleased to be back after being pulled out of Belarus last year when authorities here abruptly locked him and several other Western envoys out of their homes in a suburban compound they shared with President Alexander Lukashenko. The United States is the last of several foreign governments to return its envoy to Belarus after the lockout.

Belarusan authorities initially cited major repair work as the reason for barring diplomats' access to the compound. But Lukashenko, a vocal critic of the West, said later that he did not want to live so close to representatives of foreign states.

Cohen Watches Russian Sub Destruction

SEVERDOVINSK, Russia--Defense Secretary William S. Cohen flew to the White Sea in northern Russia to witness the destruction of Russian nuclear submarines as mandated by arms control treaties with Washington.

Cohen, ending a two-day visit aimed at improving bilateral military ties after a six-month chill sparked by the Kosovo crisis, visited shipyards operating under contracts to destroy Delta and Typhoon subs that once carried warheads aimed at the United States.

Raisa Gorbachev Called Seriously Ill

BERLIN--Raisa Gorbachev, the wife of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, has been listed in life-threatening condition as she undergoes treatment for acute leukemia, her German doctor said.

The former Kremlin first lady was in intensive care at the university clinic in the northwestern German city of Muenster after developing a severe circulation disorder Sunday. Gorbachev, 67, suffered what a clinic statement called a "circulatory collapse" during which her blood pressure plummeted.

More Reports of Violence in Kosovo

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia--Gunmen fired on a convoy of Serbs returning to their homes in the U.S.-controlled sector of Kosovo, killing one and wounding others, NATO said.

Elsewhere, two Montenegrin women--aged 50 and 70--were found dead in their home in the western Kosovo city of Pec, the NATO command said without releasing further details. Meanwhile, a rocket-propelled grenade fired at a cafe in a Serbian community just outside Pristina injured three people, NATO said.

Communal violence has been an almost daily feature of life in Kosovo since the war there ended in June and NATO-led peacekeeping troops occupied the territory--a province of Serbia, Yugoslavia's dominant republic. Most of Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanian population returned with the NATO troops, while perhaps half of the 200,000 Serbs who lived there before the war departed, fearing reprisals by returning refugees.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"When I get home at night, I just stare at the wall. I worry all the time about paying my bills. What kind of life is this?"

-- Ali Nikpour, an Iranian taxi driver, speaking of his struggle to make a living. Page A18